BUDGET FOR GUAM SCHOOLS SHORT $8 MILLION

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By Carlos B. Pangelinan

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 29) – Guam school system employees can expect to have their checks released on time for payroll this week, but the school system needs to make some cuts before the end of the fiscal year to stay afloat, according to the governor's office.

"The Legislature did not appropriate enough money to cover their payroll," the governor's chief of staff George Bamba said late last week, adding the Bureau of Budget Management Research has presented a schedule for the school system that would cover payroll for most of the fiscal year.

The Guam Public School System will receive enough to meet its payroll next week, but its annual appropriation is short US$8 to US$9 million, he said.

Bamba said he and other members of the governor's financial team met with Superintendent Luis Reyes and other schools officials early last week to discuss the matter.

Thousands of Guam Public School System employees, including teachers throughout the island's 37 schools, had to wait until after 5 p.m. on GovGuam's most recent payday to get their checks.

School officials said at the time that they had received only US$4.5 million earlier that day to cover a US$6 million dollar payroll, and it wasn't until the end of the day that the difference was released by the Department of Administration.

Guam Public School System Superintendent Luis Reyes said while the Legislature appropriated enough to cover payroll, it only provided about US$15 million for other operational expenses.

He said utilities alone will cost about US$12 million, and there will not be very much left for vendors.

"Off the bat, we are going to be short," he said.

In an interview last week, acting Speaker Eddie Baza Calvo said he was surprised to hear that what the Legislature appropriated was not enough for the school system.

He also said that he is willing to work with the administration and school officials to resolve the matter.

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